Pierce Hall I Love You, But They're Tearing You Down . Stanley R. Pierce Hall 1960-2013 on the University of Chicago Campus. Architect Harry Weese. A commissioned work to be placed in the new dormitory to be built on site. .
Pierce Hall. When I was 16, I moved to Hyde Park. This is the dormitory on the University Campus that was right across the street form my apartment. I could look out my sun parlor windows and see the building. It was a undergraduate dormitory, so there was a lot to see.
The original plan was to have two residential towers, but the project was never completed. Because the building is become outdated, it will be torn down in August of 2013 and a new dorm nearly four times the size will be constructed in it's place. The current residents of Pierce wanted a physical representation of the structure as a remembrance. As a member of the University community, I was connected and jumped at the opportunity to build something I spent so many years living right next door to.
My contact at Pierce, Natalie, a second year undergrad, was kind enough to provide me with a sketch-up model of the building which proved invaluable.
I still live in the neighborhood, so I took many walks over to the site to get pictures. This is the internal courtyard which leads to the main entrance.
Here I am with Natalie and the ceremony honoring Pierce Hall. It occurred on alumni weekend, so there were residents from the very first year it opened in attendance. One couple who met at U of C told me how the wife's father had repelled down the side of the building the first year it opened. I was able to give a short speech about my work. Also, can you see the name tag around my neck? They gave it to me when I arrived at the event and it read "Dave Kaleta, Lego Master", Awesome!
A crowd gathers to get a closer look.
A former student at the school I teach attends U of C and is an RA. Mario gave a speech about how even though the building is old and falling apart (apparently there was an exploding toilet indecent recently and the elevators constantly break down), it's the people that make Pierce special. Mario is pointing to where his room was.
While this is the front and most pleasing edge of the structure, most people don't see it this way because of an enclosed field that runs along side it. However, this is how most students who come to eat at its dining hall first encounter the building.
The tower itself is where the residents live. It was very important to them that I include all eight residential floors. This made the proportions slightly skewed, but the client is always right. I included shades on every window at varying heights. Living across the street, I always noticed the students adjusting their shades and I felt this was an important feature of the building.
A detail of the interior courtyard where the students enter the building. This section is where the dining hall is housed.
This is a detail of the corner of 55th and University. Notice the emergency call box.
This is the view from 55th and University. The building is protected from the busy traffic on 55th Street.
A view of the 55th Street facade.
This was a really fun project for me. Even though the building may seem simple, it proved quite challenging to design out of Lego. Thank you to Natalie and Dan who arranged for this work, and to the entire U of C community.